If you're wondering which company makes the best streaming players for the least amount of money, you might not expect the answer to be Walmart. Walmart's $25 Onn FHD Streaming Stick and $30 UHD Streaming Device both undercut the cheapest comparable Roku and Fire TV streamers, yet the hardware doesn't seem compromised despite the low price. Meanwhile, Google's Android TV software provides a slick streaming menu, powerful voice search, and the ability to cast video from your phone. They don't support Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, or HDR10, and I had trouble getting TV volume and power controls to work on the cheaper FHD Streaming Stick. But if that doesn't happen to you, and your streaming needs aren't overly demanding, Walmart's devices are surprisingly hard to beat.
The new DB1C shares some of that product's features--and it also depends on existing low-voltage wiring to operate--but we like it just a bit better. The DB1C video doorbell is a white and smart-looking unit with a large call button at the bottom and a camera lens at the top. It has a small but noticeable green LED that is good at drawing your attention at night. It also makes an audible beep when it detects something (this feature can be disabled), which is good at drawing people's attention to let them know they're being recorded. Like all video doorbells, it allows you to have a two-way call when someone rings the doorbell, accompanied by video on your end.
That was an easy answer just a few years ago, when Intel's product line was far and away the strongest. But with multiple generations of AMD's game-changing Ryzen chips finally giving Intel some real competition, you have more to think about. We're here to help you navigate this wider landscape, but without thousands of words and stacks of charts. We'll start with a quick primer on the strengths and weaknesses of each chip, then we'll discuss how to pick the right one for you. To keep this from getting too overwhelming, we'll stick only to the mainstream CPUs that typically go into three-pound, thin-and-light laptops, rather than get into the high-performance chips that go into thicker and heavier gaming laptops.
Leviton has been one of the most reliable names in Wi-Fi smart plugs, and for years I relied on one of its first-generation Wi-Fi plugs to power my living-room lights. With this second generation, Leviton brings a streamlined setup process and HomeKit support to the party. Leviton's model D215P is a three-prong on/off switch; model D23LP is a two-prong model with a dimmer feature. Let's start with the specs, which should be unsurprising. The D215P looks identical to the first-generation Wi-Fi plug, with the familiar horizontal brick design and a single three-prong outlet on the face.
The maker of our favorite budget-priced color A19 smart bulb is back with a slew of new smart lights, including this Edison-style ST19 filament bulb. Priced at a reasonable $13 (or $75 for a six-pack), the tunable white Cree Lighting Connected Max ST19 boasts easy setup; connects directly to Wi-Fi networks; supports Alexa, Google Assistant, and SmartThings; and packs an impressive arsenal of automation tools. But the quirky Cree app can be confusing to use (why must you group lights that are already in a room?), and the ST19's lowest brightness setting is still a bit bright for our taste. Cree Lighting offers a wide range of bulbs in its Connected Max line, including a color A19 bulb that's our current Editors' Choice for budget-priced smart bulbs. Back in May, Cree unveiled a series of new Connected Max products, including this ST19 filament bulb.
Matter, the open-source smart home standard that promises to unite Amazon's, Apple's, and Google's smart home platforms, is one of the most exciting developments that we're tracking in the smart home space. Now comes word that most Amazon Echo speakers will receive firmware updates enabling them to support Matter. The announcement, made during Amazon's Alexa Live developer conference today, means that almost all Alexa-powered Echo devices will be able to control Matter-enabled smart products, a development that will give the upcoming standard a major boost. All current and many legacy Echo speakers will get the Matter update, Amazon says. Indeed, only three older Echo speakers won't work with Matter: the first-generation Echo and Echo Dot speakers, as well as the Amazon Tap, a long-discontinued portable Bluetooth speaker with Alexa on board.
Sony announced two entirely new high-end home theater products today: The four-speaker HT-A9 home theater system and a new flagship soundbar, the HT-7000A. The audio manufacturer also announced two wireless subwoofers that can add deeper bass to either product, and wireless rear speakers that can supplement the soundbar. The Sony HT-A9 home theater system ($1,800) consists of a control box with a LAN port and HDMI in and out, along with four cylindrical, wireless, self-powered speakers. Each speaker has two built-in microphones that measure the speaker's relative height and position in the room. Sony's 360 Spatial Sound and Sound Field Optimization technology then creates up to 12 phantom speakers by synthesizing sound waves based on positional information.
You'll often hear PC enthusiasts--including yours truly--say that the Nintendo Switch is the perfect companion console for your gaming rig, thanks to its handheld mode for on-the-go gaming, deep indie library, and access to Nintendo-exclusive games. The stickiness of that last benefit will soon be put to the test, as Valve's newly announced Steam Deck handheld PC mimes the Switch form factor but revolves around your existing Steam account...and all the games already in it. In the battle of the Steam Deck vs. the Nintendo Switch, who comes out on top? We'll take it to the tape below, but first let's talk about what matters most: the games, and why the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch might not even be true competitors at all. The $399 Steam Deck and $299 Nintendo Switch have two totally different gaming philosophies.
Ring now offers seven video doorbell models, and as you might have guessed, the company is running out of ways to differentiate them. The Ring Video Doorbell 4 looks virtually identical to the Ring Video Doorbell 3 (and the battery-only Ring Video Doorbell 2, for that matter), and it delivers the same 1080p resolution. Like the model 3, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 can operate on either battery power or your existing doorbell wiring, and both models support dual-band Wi-Fi networks (2.4- and 5GHz). That leaves color pre-roll video previews (more on that in a bit) as the only additional feature you'll get for the extra $20 in cost. As is typical of Ring home-security products, you'll need to sign up for a subscription to unlock all the Ring Video Doorbell 4's capabilities.
Buying an ultrawide monitor for your PC is the most dramatic choice you can make short of purchasing a full-sized HDTV and slapping it on your desktop. Ultrawides are massive monitors that will dominate your desk and may even require a re-think of your existing office or gaming setup. Yet there's good reason to make an ultrawide your next monitor. If you just want a quick recommendation, here it is: yes! Buy an ultrawide monitor. An ultrawide monitor makes multitasking more comfortable and enhances your gaming experience with an immersive field of view.